Monday, December 27, 2010

What Is The Appropriate Age To Introduce A Child To Hunting?

Originally published in the Merritt News– Othmar Vohringer The Outdoorsman

© By Othmar Vohringer

The above is a question I am asked quite often by parents who wish to introduce their children to hunting. The answer is not cut and dried. In my opinion the introduction of a child to hunting is dependent on the child’s maturity, which is not necessary measured by age.

When I was a child I never was pushed to become a hunter and neither can I remember that it ever came up in a conversation. My father never said: “Now you’re old enough to learn about hunting.” I grew up seeing game mounts hanging on the wall. I was used to eating meals consisting of game meat and I knew that it meant taking the life of an animal. I grew up listening to my father and his friends hunting stories. In other words it was natural for me. I do remember that at about the age of eight asking my father if I could go with him to the range and shoot a gun. Of course he was pleased to take me along. About a year later I followed my dad on a scouting trip where he told me what signs to look for and explained them to me.

From then on it was a natural progression and at the age of 12 I asked if I could shoot a deer and was granted that wish. The rest is, as they say, history. I think there is no ‘appropriate’ age to introduce a child to hunting. In fact, it will probably be the child’s gradually building interest that will lead you to know when to start. Signs to look for will be when children begin asking questions about hunting.

The most important thing is not to push hunting on children and at the same time never try to hide it from them either. If a child wants to watch how you butcher a deer let the child watch. When a child asks more frank questions about hunting, take your time and answer honestly rather than make excuses or beat about the bush. Children are a lot smarter than we grant them. Take your children out on short outdoor trips, make it fun and let them explore the sights and sounds. Explain how nature and animals exist and that hunting is not only about killing but also just as much about conservation and preserving wildlife for the future.
Parents have to be in tune with their children and gently guide their interests in the right direction. Don’t let age alone determine when it is time to introduce them to hunting. First make sure the child is genuinely interested. A great way to introduce children to hunting and give them a broader understanding of what it is all about is to enroll them in a CORE course. This course is mandatory for every person wishing to hunt in this province but the course is not limited to people legally old enough to hunt; any child can take this course, even non-hunters. The CORE course is a great way to teach children the many aspects of wildlife and nature conservation and hunting.


This column has been brought to you by Othmar Vohringer Outdoors


SimplyOutdoors said...

Excellent points, Othmar.

And, you are so right, there is definitely a fine line between encouraging them to go hunting, and making it available to them, while also not pushing them to go.

I'm all for laws that abolish any sort of age limit associated with hunting. We need to get them interested early, before video games and everything else in our current "right now" society takes a hold.

Mike Adams said...

Excellent post! I couldn't agree more. My three oldest kids got the hunting bug early but had to wait on age requirements here in Michigan. My youngest isn't "Legally" old enough yet so she will have to wait even though she wants to take a crack at hunting herself. Michigan does have legislation pending that would abolish all age requirements, lets hope it passes! Great post!

Jazzie said...

I think that a maturity of a child is variant and that it cannot be narrowed down to a particular age group. Although when a child advances biology, there is an expected intellectual advancement. One of the best ways perhaps is to make a concrete observation on the behavior of a child if there is a noted readiness and willingness to undergoes such different area of manhood so to speak.

EFT Video said...

Wonderful insights! Parents should be the primary teachers and mentors of their children.

Anonymous said...

My child is 2 years old and his father is taking him hunting, letting him watch skin rabbits etc and sends me pictures of it. I am 100% not okay will it bc I don't feel like my child understands the difference between a deer, duck, ct dog etc yet.. I was never raised around this type of thing and was wondering if anyone has any comments on this. I think my child should understand what death is and be able to understand why these things are going in before he sees this.

Would appreciate any advice/ comments.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Hi Anonymous. Kids, even two year old, are a lot smarter then we adults grant them. I was part of processing dead animals for as long as I can think. When my father skinned rabbits, deer or butchered chickens we were always present.Personally I believe it is good for children to witness where the meat on the table is coming from, especially these days were everything is sterile and even some adults have forgotten that in order for us to eat something else has to die. Witnessing food processing at a young age had a huge influence on the respect I have for animals and those that live of the land.


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